My sister (+boyfriend) came to visit in January and I didn’t get a chance to write about all we got into. Hopefully I can remember it all and do the week-long trip justice.
We started the action packed week with a bowl of pho the poor travelers were too exhausted to slurp up. I sent them off to wander around Wan Chai while I finished my work day. That evening, we headed to the horse races at Happy Valley. (Sidenote – I love that I live five minutes from happy valley, just like home, go Penn State!)
Thursday we started an early morning to visit the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens which I briefly wrote about before from a previous visit. They are located in Diamond Hill and worth multiple visits. Buddhist Nunnery is open daily and is free to enter, so definitely add this to any Hong Kong itinerary.
After Chi Lin, we walked around the flower and pet markets ( amphibians anyone?) and dipped in for lunch at one of my favorite places. Near Prince Edward station on Kowloon side is my first choice to get dim sum. The staff is very friendly and everything is delish. BBQ pork buns, fried wontons, beef rice rolls, and dumplings are just a few of the Dim Sum dishes that are perfect for sharing, and, no surprise, that I love. Cassandra and James even enjoyed a few, feeding picky eaters for a win!
I went back to work and they went out to the Big Buddha at Lantau Island. 112 feet tall and made out of bronze, this statue is certainly an impressive sight. It’s a short, but sweat-inducing, climb to the top and there’s a small museum in the Buddha’s base and several other Buddha’s around the massive one.
Friday we checked out Ocean Park. It was nice to go in the off season as it wasn’t so busy, but we did find several rides closed. Still, much preferable to the summer crowds.
We learned about goldfish types that we didn’t know existed
Watched the pandas chew, totally unbothered by the audience
and watched the Walrus swim several laps. Does he look like a Dr. Seuss character to anyone else? I realized that day I had never seen a walrus before, although I think it looks like suspicious amount like me sunbathing.
I also enjoyed testing my phone’s camera with some jelly fish shots.
After looking at the penguins and several theme park rides, we took the cable cars back to the main area and headed for dinner.
We all had Korean BBQ for the first time, and let me say, I didn’t know what I was missing. For less than $200HKD ($25US) we had unlimited meat, seafood, and veggies to cook at our table. If you haven’t had Korean BBQ yet, look up a place and thank me later.
After stuffing ourselves, we rolled back to Times Square for a drink at rooftop bar.
Cassandra and boyfriend had a lie-in on Saturday while I went to work. After, they got to see how much work I need to put into my rugby game.
That evening, we got a front row seat to HK streets for Mathilde’s birthday tram party. Renting out a tram is a great way to get a view of HK’s streets, but to be done in the summer at your own risk. Even in January it was a bit warm, but definitely a great time.
Most mornings we had a local breakfast of ham macaroni, and Sunday was no exception.
After visiting Lucky Star for the 3rd time that week, we headed off to Macau with full bellies. We went specifically to see the House of Dancing Water show, but spent some time seeing the pandas there, as well as a small coast neighborhood for lunch and some views.
Some local Macau sights.
Macau is often called the Vegas of the East, as its the only part of China that gambling is legal. In one part of Macau, Casinos are at every turn and sometimes you can forget just what part of the world you’re in.
If you’re ever in Macau, the House of Dancing Waters is a must see. It’s a bit pricy, but totally worth it. I definitely will go again when friends come to visit. Starting with a stage just under water, this theater transformed several times during the performance. At times, a ship poked out of the depths, sometimes the performers walked and fought on solid ground, and to end it, there was a dirt bike – off. Really, a performance unlike any I’ve seen before.
To end the day, I took the two sleepy travelers to one of my favorite places for a noodle bowl. I loved this place because it used to be made-to-order and I could choose exactly what I wanted in my food. While the restaurant is still there, they’ve had a menu change since I first discovered them. It’s still good, but I am very disappointed all the same that I can’t choose precisely what goes in my bowl these days.
Monday morning we check out the Chinese New Year display at Times Square. This display was especially cool as there was an animated wall of auspicious Chinese animals that gave information about themselves and made noise when we waved at them.
We had another local breakfast including ham macaroni and pineapple buns, then headed off to what’s considered New Territories for 10,000 Buddhas temple.
We took the long journey up to Sha Tin where we got lost in the cemetery trying to get to the temple, and admittedly, were chased by monkeys that were deceptively friendly at first. While I got some pretty cool monkey pictures, I have to say I am perfectly fine to never see a wild monkey again, even the cute baby ones. I’m not ashamed to admit I would gladly sacrificed either my sister or her boyfriend to the monkey lords if it came down to me or them, but it didn’t come to that.
After catching our breaths, we hesitantly tried again to find what we set out for. Note to self, the 10,000 Buddha temple is not accessible through the cemetery. Although, it still unfortunately has plenty of wild monkeys, so we spent every other moment jumping at every rustling in the bushes.
After climbing the 400 steps and enjoying the differently posed Buddhas along the way, we reached the top and were rewarded with a great view, and you guessed it, even more Buddhas. A slightly misleading name, there’s actually closer to 13,000 Buddahs in this monastery, also a misleading name. Officially titled Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, no monks live here so it’s a misnomer. Even so, the hillside complex is stunning and worth the sweaty hike up. I won’t make the mistake of wearing jeans up there again though as I was definitely dripping sweat by the time we reached the top.
We also walked through one of the local wet markets, where I do some of my shopping. Hong Kong has lots of dried foods everywhere that locals use for soup. I don’t know what a lot of the frozen things are but I guess fish balls and things like this. Things I am not brave enough to take home and guess how to cooke, that’s for sure!
We had a bubble waffle, an iconic HK street food. Best served hot, these waffles aren’t as fluffy as Americans are used to, but still hot the spot as a sweet treat.
On Tuesday we took a food tour from Secret Food Tours that was to die for. Here are a few pictures as a sneak peak, but check back next week to see more about the food tour.
We finished our whirlwind week with a drink at what quickly became my favorite bar, Alto.
After our drinks, I dropped the two of them off to get a massage after their week of walking many miles. They ended up in a sticky situation when they didn’t quite have the cash for the massages. The short version is that they locked Cassandra in while James had to take out more money! You can absolutely negotiate for things like massages in many countries, but not once the service has been provided. Make sure you bargain before you get the product, as these two have hopefully learned now.
We met one last time Wednesday morning before I went to work for another breakfast of ham macaroni and a pineapple bun before I sent them off to sort themselves out to the airport and saying goodbye for a yet again, unknown amount of time. Thanks for visiting sis!
Even though we were packed, there is so many more things to be done in HK including the Peak for a great view, hiking, and beaches on beaches! For sure after nearly a year here, I haven’t begun to scratch the list of things to do.